I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, and I can’t tell yet but it could be awesome. I’ve never written anything before, so I have nothing to which to compare my experience. I’m just one of those naive persons who believes that because they love to read that they would also love to write a book! Cue the maniacal laughter right about here.
I’ve wanted to do NaNoWriMo for some time, but never seemed to think about it ahead of time. I would then be jealous of those who were paying attention when it started and got to participate. This year, about October 25th, which is by the way my birthday, I experienced one of those electric moments of clarity that sometimes come my way, a moment in which the way forward was very clear. Perhaps the decision came more easily because I turned 57, but whatever the origin, the thought registered in my brain. I WILL do NaNoWriMo, I declared. And preparation be damned!
I am a whopping 9000 words in, and mired in deep philosophical and structural questions. First, what were the names I gave those characters a couple of pages back? Were they Craig and Cindy? Or did I change them to Louis and Fran? Second, do the names Louis and Fran even sound believable? Would someone named Fran, dressed in a tartan plaid skirt and knee socks,speed down Montezuma Highway with a stolen cocker spaniel named Guido in her car? Or does that sound stupid? Also, has anything I have written so far ever happened before in any other written work since the dawn of time? Because I want to be original here in this off the cuff work of genius I will create in only thirty days. Inbox me your answers!
The suspense rises for me as I struggle to write some some number of made up sentences each day. An addition to the creative milieu is that I absolutely cannot type. It is true. In the olden days when girls took typing in high school, I was too vain to cut my long nails as would have been required. I wasn’t going to be a secretary, so who cared? As a result of my foolish choices, I am hunched over a keyboard now, having to stare at the letters, which one is not supposed to do, and not the screen. I will feel a spark of inspiration, type like crazy while thinking, ” I’m typing more quickly than ever with two fingers. I’m finally getting the hang of it.” only to see that the cursor has gone cockeyed and set my words down two paragraphs up from where I wanted them. So I erase. So I redo. So I cry.
Still, though, every time I go back to the computer and pull up my story, there it is waiting for me, like a loyal but not very bright Labrador Retriever: ungainly, wriggly, unkempt, but enthusiastic. And when I have written as much as I can manage at a sitting, I scroll back up, surveying the big mess I’ve made with an inordinate sense of pride. To be sure, it is full of typos and errors much more egregious than that, but I’ll get to those in time. Writing itself can never be an error.
One helpful thought is that NaNoWriMo has its own set of “Life Alert” buttons: local groups, write ins, research and writing help forums, and pep talks. I haven’t taken much advantage of that because, um, I’m busy trying to invent a novel, but knowing the help is there is encouraging. Also there is L., a lovely lady at my gym is is NaNoing for the third time this year, and who appears sane, which speaks well for the experience of NaNoRiMo participation. Her advice is not to have unreasonably high expectations for myself. Since I have none at all, except to reach the 50,000 mark, I think I’m okay in that area.
I guess that’s all I have time to say about NaNoRiMo right now. If you don’t seem to hear as much from me this month, now you know why. Feel free to check on me if you want. I’ll be in the backseat of Fran’s car, hurtling down Montezuma Highway, holding on to a stolen cocker spaniel named Guido.